Therese Johaug has been given a provisional two month suspension from competition ©Getty Images

Therese Johaug appears set to miss the start of the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup season after the Norwegian was handed a two month provisional suspension for failing a drugs test for banned anabolic steroid clostebol last month.

The three-time Olympic cross-country skiing medallist, who is the current World Cup champion, claimed to have used the product inadvertently via a sun cream.

Anti-Doping Norway have now given Johaug a provisional suspension, which would see the Norwegian ruled out of competition until December 18.

"The reason for the decision is the opinion that an athlete cannot be said to have acted without fault," said Anstein Gjengedal, head of the Prosecution Committee.

"The suspension means that the athlete cannot participate in competitions and organised training."

Anti-Doping Norway have confirmed they will continue their investigation work, before a final judgement is made by the Prosecution Committee.

Norwegian team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen has claimed "full responsibility" for the Johaug incident and resigned from his post following the case.

Anti-Doping Norway have confirmed they will open a case against the doctor, which will investigate a possible violation of doping rules.

Fredrik Bendiksen is set to be investigated by Anti-Doping Norway regarding his involvement in the case ©Getty Images
Fredrik Bendiksen is set to be investigated by Anti-Doping Norway regarding his involvement in the case ©Getty Images

Bendiksen had been summoned in connection with the Johaug case, with the doctor confirming to officials he travelled to a pharmacy in Livigino in Italy to buy medicine for cold sores to give to the skier.

He confirmed he bought trofodermin and gave the medicine to Johaug without verifying that it contained a substance on the banned list and stated it was okay to use.

The recent case has led to former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general Harri Syväsalmi claiming that the Norwegian skiing team are operating in a "grey area".

His view followed the cases involving Johaug and male cross-country star Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who was also handed a two-month ban and stripped of his 2014-15 World Cup title earlier this year following two failed tests for asthma medication salbutamol.

Sundby claimed to have received the wrong advice from a doctor on what dosage he should take and was initially cleared of any wrongdoing by an International Ski Federation tribunal, only for WADA to successfully appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He was consequently banned from July until September 11, with Russian rival Evgeniy Belov claiming the process was deliberately slowed in order to ensure he was only banned during the off-season.

The pair were the male and female champions in last season's World Cup series and, despite the mitigating circumstances surrounding both cases, Syväsalmi expressed his view the Norwegian team are operating at the edge of the rules.

The Norwegian Ski Federation have confirmed to insidethegames that they have initiated a general investigation into their medical procedures.

“The Norwegian Ski Federation Cross Country’s Medical Team has previously communicated our medical routines of all our athletes and teams to the media," a spokesperson told insidethegames.

“To get all the facts of this situation the Norwegian Ski Federation has initiated an independent investigation committee to go through all the medical procedures.

“Medical experts from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are participating in this international investigation team and have already started working on this important issue.

“The chair of the investigation committee is District Attorney Katharine Rise.”